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Monday, 3 March 2014

A Defense of Shale Gas Opposition and the Real Value of Property 

Sackville Tribune-Post    
5 October 2013 

Air, water and land are our environment and as such are essential for life.  Man-made chemicals pollute the environment and burning fossil fuels alters the composition of the atmosphere ultimately destabilizing the earth's weather patterns.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reinforced this conclusion in their recent study released on Sept. 7th, 2013.  

Some consider it hypocritical that those of us who object to further oil and gas development continue to heat our homes with oil and convey ourselves in cars that run on gas.  This is disingenuous, to say the least, as we have been thoroughly indoctrinated in the oil and gas lifestyle for over a century.  Surely, if the contamination and pollution caused by burning fossil fuels is now understood to be a threat to our health and the environment, we have a right to speak out and demonstrate why using them should be gradually reduced in favour of renewables.  

Of the three essentials for life, water and land have a monetary value.  Owning the rights to water has become a hugely contentious issue and is most often viewed in a national or global context.  Property, however, is personal and it defines our own little bit of the planet. Recent studies on how shale gas development affects property values emphasize the following:  

-  property values often increase when well pads are drilled within 2000 meters of a public water facility (piped water) while properties dependent on ground water are just as often negatively affected by local drilling, experiencing as much as a 24% decrease in the value of privately owned land.

-  The issues involved in the perception of risk associated with the process of fracking include: increased traffic, deterioration of infrastructure, minor earthquakes, groundwater contamination, the visual eyesore of the well pad and the rough clearing of land, all of which reduce the aesthetic appeal and considerably affect property value.

The true value of land that is not privately owned; wetlands, park lands and agricultural lands means they have the potential to remain both a much needed habitat for animal and plant species as well as the possible means to increased agricultural production.  Some of these lands have also come under the threat of fracking with recent government approval.  

Many of us who live outside the three major cities in N.B. do so because we appreciate cleaner air, the luxury of privacy, a pleasant view, one's own well and the feeling that life is a little less stressful in a smaller community.  Almost half of the adult population of this province (44%-CBC news report) have said no to shale gas, more often than not citing the potential for groundwater contamination as the number one reason.  

Those who have decided to reject the shale gas industry in N.B., do so not because our minds are closed to any assurances that might be offered on behalf of the technology, but because we now know that communities that have been involved with fracking, have been laid waste, with high levels of environmental pollution and every indication that the process makes people sick.

Donna Mclellan for the

Tantramar Alliance Against Hydro-Fracking

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